Fear is one of the most obvious ways our brains get hijacked in a crisis. We’re afraid of a lot of things: getting sick, having a loved one get sick, losing a job, losing dreams, and running out of toilet paper. Apparently, America is very afraid of running out of toilet paper.
While the item we hoarded surprised me, we shouldn’t be surprised about the behavior. Hoarding is about turning inward, protecting. It embodies fear.
Yet we know that turning inward is not the answer right now. This is not the time for self-serving accumulation. It’s the time for self-giving generosity. We know this. It’s why we applaud healthcare workers, those who are embodying self-giving in extraordinary ways these days.
So here’s something you can do to reinforce a better story, the narrative that we are the kind of people who look out for each other, even for total strangers. That we are not alone. That we have each other.
Give away some toilet paper.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to toilet paper. Look at the resources you’re tempted to hoard. Cash, food, sanitizer. Give some away. Give enough away that it feels at least somewhat uncomfortable. Stick a dagger in the lie that we don’t have enough.
No one will remember if you had enough toilet paper. But they’ll remember that you were generous.